Monday, May 2, 2011

Some thoughts on the death of an arch-terrorist

For all of us who were old enough to understand what those terrible towering billows of smoke drifting from lower Manhattan to Brooklyn, visible from as far away as Connecticut, and worldwide electronically meant on 9/11, the death of Osama bin Laden cannot but strike a chord in that place in our hearts that seek to see revealed justice in this world.

After all one of the basic tenets of the Noahide the universal law of humanity is - “Shofech dam hadam beadam damo yishafeych” He who spills the blood of man, his blood shall be spilled”.
Yet we understand that this is not out of a Divine concession to a desire for revenge, vengeful feelings are unworthy of human being (kedoshim).

Rather we grasp that there is no place in the world for a person who does not respect the image of G-d that is each one of us. The murderer all the more so the cold blooded ideological murderer says: “I decide the value of a human being”. This is a more direct denial of g-d than even Idol worship, which simply sees G-d as too big to be involved with the world so he appointed “vice presidents” to run the day to day and it is to these sub-Gods to whom idolaters originally prayed – not denying G-d’s ultimate existence

For the murderer who does not holds human life in awe, this is because he rejects the idea that we are created in G-d’s image, that G-d assigns value to each one of us. He rejects the reflection of G-d because he denies G-d anything else that to be mirror of his own ego. He seeks to replace G-d –his G-d however fervently he worships him, is an image of himself –he worships himself -–hence all who are not in his image –he seeks to kill or values not their lives.

This is a worse idolatry than any ancient pantheon because it places a man of flesh and blood in the place of G-d. Only when his mortality is exposed –e.g. his death is his pretension of being G- d eradicated.

But there is more to this - as the Baal Shem Tov taught us that in all we hear or see we must see a positive lesson in our relationship to G-d. What is the positive message from all of this?

Ultimately, think of all the effort by so many people in various armed forces and think-tanks etc. went into performing this act of justice- the act of negating evil. How much money, how much technology, how much human ingenuity to fulfill this task that has been urgent for a decade?

Imagine now if we understand that at the root of all this trouble lies a world unaware of the universal code the Noahide Law that G-d gave all humanity –preserving its diversity in its very generality, yet demanding above all one thing: absolute respect of the right of each individual to live the life G-d gave them in peace and with the ability to make the world a place of goodness and kindness, as the Rebbe was often to say in referencing the Noahide laws. But to quote Maimonides (Teshuva 9): “for when a person is occupied in this world with sickness, war, and hunger, he cannot involve himself with either wisdom or mitzvoth”

Let us try to devote the same massive effort and brain power to take away hunger and disease, to teach and demand (in peaceful ways), that all people accept the Divine image of every other

Then we will have taken the very evil we have today eradicated and turned the power and ability the response has evoked to truly good and harmonious uses. We can then move towards that time when Isaiah writes - “nation shall not lift the sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.”

However it is in particular our –the Jewish peoples task - to evoke this - be the catalysts that inspire this new focus – and as anyone who studied chemistry knows - a little catalyst goes a long way -we must provide the impetus for the world to do this as the earlier verse states:
Isaiah 2:3. And many peoples shall go, and they shall say, "Come, let us go up to the Lord's mount, to the house of the God of Jacob, and let Him teach us of His ways, and we will go in His paths," for out of Zion shall the Torah come forth, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem….